3-2-1 Dice Mechanic: Roll Three, Keep Two, Give One

Three Three Three
Here's another odd dice idea I tweeted last weekend. Assume you're playing a story game. Assume that each turn, players state one thing that they want to change in the story, using their characters as the means of change. And also assume that each turn, the active player will get a graduating range of complication on her stated actions.

This range is drawn from a pair of d6 dice results, ranging from 2-12. 2 is the most complications, 12 is the fewest complications. The most common result is 6 or 7, which represent just a few complications.

Here's the trick: You actually roll three dice on your turn. After rolling, you choose which two dice to keep as your official results. Then you pass the third dice result to the next player for their turn.

He then rolls two dice and now has to choose among the three results: Those two he just rolled and the one result you gave him. If he takes your result, you earn a point. If he doesn't take your result, it passes to the next player, and so on until someone takes it or it comes back around to you. If it comes back to you, you lose one point.

There are some interesting choices here: You can offer a high result to your neighbor in the hopes of tempting him to give you a point, thereby possibly complicating your turn in the short-term. You can offer a low result, thereby reducing your complications by possibly finding it come back to bite you in the end.

And what are points for? Let's brainstorm that a bit.
  • Perhaps points are a pacing mechanic, so the "mission" ends when there are a certain number of points across the whole group.
  • Or perhaps it's competitive, so the game ends when one player has a certain number of points.
  • They could buy off complications.
  • They could buy re-rolls.
  • Maybe you can buy +1 modifiers on the lowest, middle, or highest dice.
You tell me! Share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. You could use the basic idea without points. Each player has 3 dice in their colour. First player rolls 3d6, passes one on. Next player rolls 4d6 (his three plus the passed dice), keeping 2 passing 1. If he uses your dice, it goes straight back to you. If he passes it, it goes round the table. If he does neither, he keeps it and can roll it like one of his dice next turn.

    So it goes on - one dice is always passed on, and when someone uses a dice that came from another player it goes back to them. If one of your dice comes back to you, you are compelled to use it that roll.

  2. Is there any mechanical effect of choosing whether to use another player's dice or giving it to the next player?

  3. I love, love, love this idea. Passing potential consequences on to the next player could result in a lot of different scenarios. I want to take this mechanic, and make a game based around it. Well done, sir.

  4. Please do! I'm eager to see how it works. :D

  5. I really like the idea of having different color dice for each player,
    then if you use a different player's die that ties both characters in
    for the intended change.

  6. This sounds fantastic for a game with a split competitive/cooperative nature, such as a crime game. Passing high dice helps your team accomplish the mission, but ultimately, more survivors means your share of the loot gets smaller, so you have incentives both to pass low dice, and not to take the dice passed to you, in hopes that they get pack to their owner.

    I'll prototype something around this and get back to you. Thanks for posting this!

  7. Nice theme! Very curious to see how that turns out.

  8. We've been making the LEGO game Minotaurus interesting by having each player, on his turn, roll as many dice as we have players, picking one result, then passing the others around. It's taken a game for kids and made it playable by adults.

  9. Ooh. Now that is very interesting. You see that mechanic much more often in card games, where you have more diverse choices than "good result" and "bad result." What do the dice results give you in Minotaurus?

  10. a similar thing is in the new Martin Wallace Doctor Who game, only with cards

  11. Ooh. Can you tell me more? Genuinely interested.

  12. In the DW game, you get three cards passed to you from the left. Take these, draw two cards (plus any that have been banked), play as many as you want/can, then pass three to the player on your right.


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